Sidney Shapiro Testifying at House Judiciary Hearing on Regulatory Accountability Act

by Ben Somberg

October 25, 2011

If you were an industry lobbyist working to block new health and safety protections, what would make your job easier? How about if the law said that you could flood an agency with alternate regulatory proposals, and the agency wouldn’t just need to consider each one, but in fact conduct a full cost-benefit analysis on them all? That would probably be an effective way to tie up the agency quite nicely, and block it from getting its work of protecting the public done.

And that’s exactly what one of the provisions in the “Regulatory Accountability Act,” the subject of a hearing at the House Judiciary Committee this morning, would do. The bill would require an agency to do a cost-benefit study for “any reasonable alternatives for a new rule or other response identified by the agency or interested persons.” That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Point is, if you want to bog agencies down, this one’s for you.

CPR Member Scholar Sidney Shapiro will be testifying at the hearing. Among the points in his testimony:

  • The regulatory system is already too ossified, and H.R. 3010 would only exacerbate this problem.  It currently takes four to eight years for an agency to promulgate and enforce most significant rules, and the proposed procedures would likely add another two to three years to the process.  In the meantime, thousands of people would die and tens of thousands more would be injured or become ill because of the lack of regulation.
  • H.R. 3010 would block or dilute the critical safeguards on which all Americans depend.  The available evidence demonstrates unequivocally that regulations have benefited the United States greatly, while the failure to regulate has cost us dearly, from the financial collapse to the BP oil spill. The bill would overrule more than 25 environmental, health, and safety statutes by enshrining the protection of corporate profit margins, rather than the protection of individuals, as the primary concern of regulatory decision-making.
  • H.R. 3010 is a drastic overhaul of the Administrative Procedure Act.  The bill would add over 60 new procedural and analytical requirements to the agency rulemaking process.

This bill is no regulatory accountability program.

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